23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism
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23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,174 ratings  ·  289 reviews
Thing 1: There is no such thing as free market. Thing 4: The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet. Thing 5: Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst. Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer.If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what...more
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Published January 1st 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published January 1st 2010)
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Miquixote
Brilliantly simple yet effective fare which a wide variety on the political compass can digest.

Admittedly not revolutionary. Pure reformist stuff. But makes very important observations on how destructive free-market economics are and have been. One doesn't have to agree with Chang's argument that capitalism itself is not necessarily a bad thing to appreciate his well-founded critisms of the free market.

It debunks the very possibility of the existence of a a free market, it elaborates why owner...more
Jonas
"23 Things" (for short) purports to be a rebuttal of commonly held views about the free market, capitalism and the science and profession of economics. Chang's position is pro government action and intervention (left wing, if you will), and he seeks to back it up with evidence and arguments.

I find it rather disappointing. It often addresses straw men and commonly held misconceptions about how economists think (rather than how economists actually think), and often fails to present opposing argume...more
Nick
Plain talk about capitalism - from a Cambridge economist who believes in it, but not in the free market ideology which has surrounded it for the last thirty years. Required reading for anyone who wants a grip on what's actually going on with the global economy, and anyone who likes to kid themselves they vote rationally...
Connie  Kuntz
This book is a very convincing argument about how utterly bogus the notions of free market and free trade actually are. You can find a quote in every chapter regarding this point. My favorite is found on page 73:

"The free trade, free-market policies that have rarely, if ever, worked. Most of the rich countries did not uses such policies when they were developing countries themselves, while these policies have slowed down growth and increased income inequality in the developing countries in the...more
Tank Green
Oct 24, 2010 Tank Green rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
i was going to give this 4 stars at first b/c i think he's often overly and unnecessarily simplistic to the point that i sometimes got confused over his target audience. also, some of his examples are weak which is frustrating b/c his arguments are not; he could have chosen better examples is all.

however, things 16 and 23 are absolutely brilliant and he goes straight for the jugular: they made me happy! things 9 and 17 are also pretty damn good.

i don't think anything he says is particularly reve...more
Ob-jonny
This is a great book on economics, the free market, and trade policy. Everything is explained in a very understandable way without getting the reader lost in too many details or obscure terms that only an economics expert would understand. It dispels a lot of myths about how the free-market is good for the economy of the country where it is practiced. It describes in detail about how the free-market ideology has destroyed or stagnated the economies of countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin Am...more
Christopher Rex
This book would make an excellent companion to any economics class. It is better as a "discussion starter" and/or "debate" type of hypothesis than a standard economical study. That within itself is the book's greatest strength and weakness. Many of the arguments put forth here are not backed up w/ methodical statistical studies and data - that's obviously a good thing for the "casual" reader, like myself. The problem is, that without widespread and detailed case-studies it opens itself up to cri...more
Answer Styannes
"23 Things They Don't Tell you About Capitalism" is basically a 'pop' version of Ha-Joon Chang's previous work, Bad Samaritans. This book seems to be intended to be very easy to read -which is good to some extent- but unfortunately it has made the discussion a bit too oversimplified.

Ha-Joon Chang starts every chapter with a brief explanation on 'myths' he claimed put forward by the capitalists and free market advocates. I, however, found that some of the 'myths' he mentions in the book are not...more
Adam Higgitt
This is a book that could only have been published in 2010. A confluence between the style of Freakonomics and an appetite for tracts like The Spirit Level it may be, but the timing of Ha-Joo Chang’s book is important for another reason. It isa reappraisal of economicorthodoxyonly possible once appropriate distance has been gained from the manifest failure of that orthodoxy.

23 Things The Don’t Tell You About Capitalism takes the sacred cows of free market economics one-by-one and calmly slaughte...more
Johnsergeant
One of the best critiques of free market capitalism I have read!

Narrated by Joe Barrett

8 hrs and 58 mins

Publisher's Summary

Thing 1: There is no such thing as the free market.
Thing 4: The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet.
Thing 5: Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst.
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer.

If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what...more
Sarah
I consider this a must-read for anyone like me, who does not have an economics background and has become accustomed to the misleading free market rhetoric. It was refreshing to have some of the principles of my own thoughts on the economy reinforced by a prize-winning economist, as well as to hear other more complicated principles developed by Ha-Joon Chang that challenge the current orthodoxy. The book is incredibly straightforward and easy to read, in a conversational voice I would almost call...more
Marc
This book is an amazing and enlightening work that every world citizen ought to read. It succinctly breaks down what is wrong with our global economic market in terms that any non-economist can understand. It throws new (to most of us) and important light on the flaws of conventional “wisdom” about free-market capitalism and how those policies over the past 30 years have created the systems and incentives for ongoing economic crises during that time (including our current one). But Chang is not...more
Ilya
In the 1960s, South Korea, then a military dictatorship, wanted to be self-sufficient in steel. It founded a steel company with the government as the major shareholder, an ocean away from the nearest deposits of iron ore and coking coal (there was then no trade between Communist China and anti-Communist South Korea), headed by a retired general who knew nothing about steel, using Japanese reparation payments as capital. This project was thought of by most investors as insane. The company is now...more
Al Bità
This is a superb analysis of Capitalism at a time when Capitalism needs all the help it can get.

The book consists of 23 things they DO tell us about Capitalism, and these are summarised in a paragraph at the beginning of each Chapter of the book. What is fascinating is that each of these paragraphs read very familiarly indeed: they are exactly spot on as concepts most readers will have heard, and possibly even agreed with regarding this subject. The rest of each Chapter then proceeds to discuss...more
Aaron Jordan
I am a free-market advocate and read this book to examine opposing arguments. I tried to be open-minded, but ultimately found most of the arguments in this book unpersuasive. He makes a few good points, but he also sets up many straw men to tear down positions that nobody holds, and he imbues many of his arguments with abstract plausibilites rather than with logic and empirical evidence. Some of his arguments border on the absurd, such as his claim that the welfare state facilitates economic gro...more
Ryan
It was okay, I liked it enough. This wasn't an anti-capitalism book, but an anti-free market capitalism book. That's not a knock on the book, it's just a clarification of its intent.

Written clearly, the book tackles some of the prevailing assumptions of the neo-liberal orthodoxy that has dominated economic thinking of the last 30 years much to the detriment of people everywhere. Most of the book is spent debunking the Reaganite/Thatcherite school of thought, and argues for a different form of c...more
Alastair Crawford
Cleverly simple. The perfect anti-neo liberal text. Don't think inflation needs to be as low as 2%? Like to see it at 4-6% and economic growth above 2%? This book will explain why Key and Brash and co. will never allow it. A good follow on to Ralston Saul's re-reading of Adam Smith, explaining how the far-right have misread and hijacked a small part of Smith's general economic theory, (the invisible hand metaphor) and why it doesn't fit 21st Century international corporate commerce as well as it...more
Katarzyna
„Cze­go ci nie po­wie­dzą

Do­brzy eko­no­mi­ści nie są nie­zbęd­ni do pro­wa­dze­nia do­brej po­li­ty­ki go­spo­dar­czej. Urzęd­ni­cy zaj­mu­ją­cy się go­spo­dar­ką, któ­rzy od­nie­śli naj­więk­sze suk­ce­sy, za­zwy­czaj nie byli eko­no­mi­sta­mi. Pod­czas „cu­dow­nych lat” ja­poń­ską i(w mniej­szym stop­niu) ko­re­ań­ską po­li­ty­ką go­spo­dar­czą kie­ro­wa­li praw­ni­cy. Na Taj­wa­nie iw Chi­nach au­to­ra­mi bar­dzo sku­tecz­nych po­li­tyk go­spo­dar­czych byli in­ży­nie­ro­wie.”

Czas obudzić si...more
Sarah Walsh
Essential. As are most books I'm reading of late. Possibly my aerial is plugged in along with my surfaced desire to understand the gagged truth that sits firmly behind the veil of present-day myth, and repeated societal illusion. Ha-Joon Chang wrote in The Guardian as soon as recently and alerted us, we're heading toward another Bubble. With the Bubble delicately moved to the side, it appears we are STILL being rammed up our jacksies with surface lies and deep, pestilent FRAUD. Only a stupid soc...more
Chungsoo Lee
This provocative book written by a Cambridge economist, Ha-Joon Chang, successfully debunks many of common assumptions about capitalism mostly held by Republicans nowadays in the US. He argues with overwhelming evidence such facts which go against the common assumptions: 1) Free market system is the cause of meager growth of US economy since 80's and in the developing countries since 60's, including Africa. 2) The countries that entered the free trade agreement with US ended up being worse off t...more
Todd Martin
The rationale used to defend free market ideology has always felt skeevy to me. Just look at one basic tenet – the behavioral assumption of consumer theory that all consumers are rational decision makers who seek to maximize utility. “Rational decision makers” is a wildly absurd phrase when used to describe our species. To assume that people suddenly become rational in the one area of economic decision making is equally ridiculous (as is now being borne out by scientific studies).

In simple and...more
Leo Walsh
Amazing book by an insightful author. An economics professor at Cambridge, Chang emphasizes the collective nature of economics, as well as the faulty underpinnings and assumptions behind the currently popular notions of "Chicago School" economists and its popular manifestation as Supply-Side libertarian philosophy preached by our popular media.

Chang's contentions make you think. He addresses some common misconceptions that spring from the media daily, and debunks them with empirical data.

Here a...more
Converse

I listened to an audio version of this book purchased from Audible.com. The author's general point of view is that of someone who advocates a mixed economy with both market and non-market (mainly government) aspects, with a greater role for government than in the United States. The book is primarily a critque of various points of view allegedly put forth by advocates of a free market economy. I say allegedly because I felt that some of the points of view were to some extent straw men. I found t

...more
Blair Dowden
The title suggests this might be a typical anti-capitalist diatribe. However, the author paraphrases Winston Churchill in saying that Capitalism is the worst economic system, except for all the others. He is critical of an excessive focus on free markets, when in reality markets are only part of a larger ecosystem.

He points out that western countries are not richer because their people are more entrepreneurial. The reality is that third world people are more self reliant because they have to be....more
Angel
I finished this a few days ago, but I was a bit slow updating here. I will say right away that this is a book that I would strongly recommend to almost anyone. Chang looks at capitalism via, well, 23 things that the powers that be, namely free market capitalists, conveniently fail to tell you. It is not that capitalism is bad per se. That is not the problem. The problem is in how it is currently practiced given massive inequalities, bad social conditions and even the bad economy. These things ca...more
Teresa
It's not often a book written by an economist on the subject of capitalism deals much with the subject of social justice and yet Ha-Joon Chang's work here does just that. His scathing critique of Free Market Capitalism is damning both in the level of scholarship (Chang is a professor of economics at Cambridge and takes an unusually broad global and historical perspective for his arguments) and the completely congenial tone the book is written in. I went to a talk by Chang earlier this year where...more
Gary
This is a great book to place under any furniture that wobbles! First of all, this book has nothing to do with history, economics, or logic... it is purely political in that he will say whatever will get the greatest number of people to say "YEAH! RIGHT ON!"

The result is a disgustingly inconsistent book... people are good, but the decisions they make in the marketplace are bad... governments are good, but corporations are bad... inflation is good but easy credit is bad.

And those are his BETTER...more
Caitlin
I was one of the ones to win this book in the goodreads giveaway.

I've never read anything on Capitalism and I've never read anything by Ha-Joon Chang before this either. So I'm coming in from an extremely fresh point of view. I have to say I really enjoyed this book. This book probably shouldn't have been my intro book to Capitalism but either way I enjoyed it. This book had some really interesting points and ways to relate it to today. It was very well written and informative.

I'd recommend this...more
Stephan Renkens
23 Things has lots of food for thought and discussion in it. Each of the 23 things in the book are introduced by one of the claims of free market capitalism. For each of them, the author puts his own view forward. Most of the refutations are well argued, coming back with the principles of economic policy as they were put in place after the 2nd world war, prevailing until they were put aside by the neoliberal politics of Thatcher and Reagan. Each time again Ha-Joon Chang advocates a strong govern...more
Richard
Excellent analysis of how the neocons have taken over all major world governments & organisations. The author is no socialist but a supporter of capitalism but even he considers the free market of Friedman to have gone too far. The Chicago Business School has trained teams of free market economists to implement their extreme doctrine in countries and organisations like the World Bank & IMF. Well written essential reading for those wishing to rebut the arguments of the monetarists.
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Ha-Joon Chang teaches economics at Cambridge University. His book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism was a no.1 bestseller and was called by the Observer 'a witty and timely debunking of some of the biggest myths surrounding the global economy.' He is a popular columnist at the Guardian, and a vocal critic of the failures of our economic system.
More about Ha-Joon Chang...
Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective Economics: The User's Guide: A Pelican Introduction (Pelican Books) Reclaiming Development: An Economic Policy Handbook for Activists and Policymakers The East Asian Development Experience: The Miracle, the Crisis and the Future

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“Once you realize that trickle-down economics does not work, you will see the excessive tax cuts for the rick as what they are -- a simple upward redistribution of income, rather than a way to make all of us richer, as we were told.” 39 likes
“Equality of opportunity is not enough. Unless we create an environment where everyone is guaranteed some minimum capabilities through some guarantee of minimum income, education, and healthcare, we cannot say that we have fair competition. When some people have to run a 100 metre race with sandbags on their legs, the fact that no one is allowed to have a head start does not make the race fair. Equality of opportunity is absolutely necessary but not sufficient in building a genuinely fair and efficient society.” 36 likes
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